Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Dysfunctional Heavenly Family...

Jessawhy just put up a great post at The Exponent (thoughts about an absentee Mother in Heaven) and it got me thinking about our concept of a Heavenly Family, the one with all powerful, all loving divine Heavenly Parents.

(the following is expanded from my comments on that thread, which I probably should not have made there anyways.)

I realized, that if you took out the All Powerful and/or All Loving parts then the Divine Parentage analogy makes more sense (taken in the context of the horrific human wreckage that occurs every day on this earth).

One actually could view this world as the offspring of a couple of abusive, inconsistent, conditionally-loving, favoritism-playing parents.

Or even just normal run-of-the-mill-good-intentioned-but-fallible parents. Parents who are like us. Who make mistakes and don’t always have the answers and some days just don’t have the energy or the patience. Who maybe do things with the best of intentions only to find that what they did has horribly tragic consequences. And sometimes horrible things happen for no reason at all and they are unable to do anything about it, helpless to help, helpless to save, only able to weep in anguish at it all. (Or perhaps shutting their eyes so they don't have to witness the damage.)

Maybe we don’t hear about Heavenly Mom because she LEFT Heavenly Dad. Maybe they had a nasty divorce with a really bad custody battle and right now we’re on Dad’s weekend visit. That would make much more sense to me regarding the silence about Heavenly Mother:

Us: “Dad, tell us about Mom

Dad: [on a good day] “Mom is… doing something important… somewhere else… don't worry about it…” [or on a bad day] “Shut up kid

Maybe things just got outta hand, more kids seemed like a good idea at the time but now they realize that they just don't have a handle on things, stuff is out of their control, falling between the cracks (they are probably doing a good bit of arguing about it to each other behind the scenes, blame enough to go around with left-overs)

...Yah... like you are going to hear THIS preached over the pulpit anywhere.

The thing is, this explanation/analogy of a Parent God certainly might shed some light on the current state of the planet. BUT, there is nothing in this view to inspire any sort of devotion or adoration or emulation etc etc etc. Even going to that bit about well-meaning but helpless divine parents, who sincerely love their children, whose hearts break for all the grief down here... It is an image that inspires pity, but not devotion. (Would you offer up pleading prayers to a loving but helpless god?)

That's about the conclusion I came to a while back. The next inevitable phase was to realize I just didn't believe in God.

Back on that exponent thread, m&m expressed a bit of horror at my view, which is understandable. This is a pretty bleak picture I just painted of our Heavenly Family. But even laying aside all that bleakness, I frequently hear sentiments of sadness and horror about the belief that there is no god, that there is no hope or consolation or meaning to life without God, about being unable to process all the sadness without God. I am actually working on a post (have been for a while) about finding meaning, finding purpose, finding joy in a Godless world.

Eventually I'll get it finished and posted.

Eventually. :)

(Once again, sorry Jessawhy, for threadjacking your post. Thanks for being you.)


JohnR said...

Maybe God is a Blackbeard God, and Mother's body is buried in the basement?

I agree with your response to M&M about trying to explain the existence of God concurrent with the pain in this world with maybe one addition: I find the greater horror to be trying to reconcile the evil and suffering on this earth with the idea of an all-loving and all-powerful god. My favorite theology of God is Simone Weil's, which is a God of profound affliction and absence.

You might be interested in this post (actually the first of a 3 part blog/essay) I wrote on the progression of my relationship with God the Father.

I love that my word verification for this comment is "danti."

Nick Wheeler said...

I really like this post, G. I remember when I was reading the Old Testament on my mission, I thought out loud (to my companion's horror), "You know, what if God was just making some mistakes on his way to perfection?"

The bleak picture of this world without a God is something I've been dealing with lately. So I greatly look forward to your upcoming post.

angryyoungwoman said...

It was a profound relief to me when I came to the conclusion that I didn't believe in God. I know longer had to ask those questions about Heavenly Mother or reconcile all the inconsistencies in a supposedly perfectly being created by the imaginations of imperfect beings.

The world wasn't a void of sadness. For the first time, I felt hope. I've had people tell me that I must believe in god to be happy--or even mentally healthy. But I would never give up the peace of mind I've found.

Andrew S said...

I could totally see it (to continue the analogy). As a result of a rough breakup, Heavenly Father tries to shuffle us kids out of the home (go play on earth!)

The veil is so we don't remember seeing whatever bad stuff went on. (One day, when we're older, we'll understand, though.)

I agree though...when I look at things in the world/universe, the universe itself doesn't give me much reason to believe in God, much less a god that ought to be worshipped/emulated. Trying to "fit" a god to this universe seems to create something undeserving on the word (and something that, at best, should be pitied, and at worst, should be reviled.)

I also don't fully "get" the people who go on about how woeful atheism and life without god must be. To me, the universe is the way it is. Purpose, meaning, joy are the way they are. They weren't (and aren't) anchored to God, IMO, so I don't get the argument that suggests that without a deity, these things would vanish in smoke. I mean, I do believe in a rather bleak view of the world, I suppose, but I think that we already deal with this, so we don't need to act like this is some unexpected surprise.

Tammy said...

So what you're saying is that the entire planet is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder? :)

The "God as father" concept is a human story created to reflect what we understand in our daily lives. Any parallels between the story of God as father and human parenting is due to our own reflection in the pond we gaze at.

It's a grand circular quest of logic. We need a feeling of a larger, perfect outsider to guide us on our journey, so we create a story based on our flawed human existence, and then turn back on to that story to guide us. We are guiding ourselves, flaws and all.

I don't imagine that would be a very popular viewpoint with most Christians though. :)

Chandelle said...

Love this, G. (I'm like a one-person fan club! Everything you produce is gold!) I cannot relate to m&m's claim that comfort is offered by God being good and having a plan. That made/makes no sense to me. But it's an opt-repeated opinion. A friend says often that she couldn't embrace atheism because the concepts of the Atonement and life after death are the only ways she can reconcile all the terrible injustice in the world. For me, it's the opposite.

I miss you, lady. Wish you could be there with us this weekend. Of course, with my track record in SF, I might be wishing I could be there, too.

Chris said...

lol, this was great. especially that picture at the beginning.

Jessica Steed said...

My reader must be backed up because I just saw this post.

Great articulation of the issue. Don't worry about a threadjack. I think threadjacking is a sign of a good post and a good blog. It gets too boring otherwise.

I'm stil torn on the issue of God and the problem of evil.

When I think about children who are sex slaves and people who live short lives of intense pain and cruelty, I can't believe that God will help me find my keys. And yet, I recognize that I can't know inside the hearts of these people in excruciating pain. Perhaps God does comfort them. I can't assume that they feel the same helplessness and frustration with God that I think I would in their situation.
So, I can't dismiss God on the chance that S/He is comforting people in their pain despite the problem of evil.
That's all I've got.

Erstwild said...

Wow. My father had a somewhat cynical view that our Heavenly Parent were tired of how obnoxious us spirit children had become in the Pre-existance, and mortality was the way to keep us out of their hair until we got humble.

I think both parents are still there, but, yes, I'm puzzled why so very little on a HM.